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As fans, we understand that cricket is a commercial game and its administration also depends on viewership.
The ICC and the cricketing boards lose money if a match overstays its welcome in a telecast agreement. This is specifically true for white-ball cricket.
This has a particularly negative impact in T20s, as the format was made purely to save time for the viewers. As such the ICC today announced plans to penalise a team taking too long to get through their overs by enforcing four fielders outside of the circle instead of five.
While the punishment seems appropriate, I thought why not be innovative and think of alternative ways (a purely hypothetical thought experiment).
1. Giving the batting team’s captain the choice of the bowling team’s bowler in one of the last five overs, provided the bowler is a recognised bowler or an all-rounder with good bowling credentials.
For example, say Aaron Finch is the batting captain and is playing against India who aren’t keeping up with their over rates. Finch can choose to play Jasprit Bumrah in the 16th over so Rohit Sharma/KL Rahul would not be able to use him in the critical 19th over.
Or, he could also choose to bowl a rather expensive Mohammed Shami or Hardik Pandya in the 19th or 20th overs for a good finish. Although, Finch cannot choose Shreyas Iyer or KL Rahul, as they are not recognised bowlers.
2. Giving the batting team three free hits to be used at their leisure in the last five overs.
Death bowling in T20s is all about momentum: get a wicket or two and you can be economical. But get hit for a six or a four and the momentum changes. By giving three free hits to the batting team, the bowling team’s captain would be vary of the over rate as it can even end games.
For example, let’s say 20 runs are needed in the last two overs and the batting team has to face an Anrich Nortje or a Jofra Archer, they can nullify that strike bowler advantage by invoking three free hits in the over.
3. Batting team gets an extra two runs for every minute the slow over rates are behind by, which would be particularly effective when a team is chasing.
For example, say Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran are on the crease to get 30-odd from the last two overs, with overs left from the rather potent Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali. But since Pakistan are already over the rate by, say, two minutes, they already lose four runs, so suddenly the equation goes to 26 from 12 deliveries.
4. Bowling team has to play the exact same team in the next match regardless of form and in case of an injury, only be replaced by a like-for-like replacement, i.e on a non-spinning pitch, if the team chose to play Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal in the last game and say Ashwin is injured, they would have to choose an Axar Patel or a Washington Sundar, regardless of a pace-friendly pitch.